WTF is Paul Mason talking about?

It is simply that a specific part of their culture has been destroyed. A culture based on work, rising wages, strict unspoken rules against disorder, obligatory collaboration and mutual aid. It all had to go, and the means of destroying it was the long-term unemployment millions of people had to suffer in the 1980s.

Thatcherite culture celebrated the chancers and the semi-crooks: people who had been shunned in the solidaristic working-class towns became the economic heroes of the new model – the security-firm operators, the contract-cleaning slave drivers; the outright hoodlums operating in plain sight as the cops concentrated on breaking strikes.

We thought we could ride the punches. But the great discovery of the modern right was that you only have to do this once. Suppress paternalism and solidarity for one generation and you create multigenerational ignorance and poverty. Convert Labour to the idea that wealth will trickle down, and to attacks on the undeserving poor, and you remove the means even to acknowledge the problem, let alone solve it.

It really isn’t entirely obvious that it was Fatcher who destroyed the respectable working class.

43 thoughts on “WTF is Paul Mason talking about?”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    Thatcherite culture celebrated the chancers and the semi-crooks

    I am pretty sure Thatcher did not produce Peter Rachman. I am pretty sure that every form of socialism produces fixers and dealers who know who to ring and what to give to get things done.

    But perhaps it is just me.

    It is true that there was a paternalism that created real communities. Although of course it required not just employers to care about their employees, it also required employees to care if their employers stayed in business. Which side of that arrangement broke first?

  2. He’s being a standard leftie cunt.

    He’s bemoaning the UK’s transformation from a industrial economy to a services economy. Something that was going to happen regardless of blessed Maggie as a result of the emergence of the BRIC’s.

    The problem with a services economy, is that you have more of a split between the high performers/achievers and the low.

    This isn’t just a finance thing; it applies to Law, Marketing, Sales etc etc You simply have more range of quantity/quality of output than you do in industry from punching widgets/ digging coal / assembling cars.

    The problem the left has is that they’re applying a 19th century ideology that failed abysmally in the 20th century to the 21st century where its as relevant as showing a card trick to a horse.

  3. He’s not talking about the working class as in the “actually existing working class”. He’s talking about the working class as the masturbatory marxist fantasy of him and his mates would have them be.

    Which is how he can write such things that bear no reseblance to reality with a straight face.

  4. Following my comment above:

    One area where it really comes through is design.

    How much is Johnathan Ive worth to Apple?

  5. the working class culture who departure he so roundly condemns is one that is anathema to the Guardian though – beer, Page 3, hard graft and a thorough streak of racism, misogyny, homophobia and strict gender demarcations.

    He is, I suspect, someone who hasn’t actually met many run of the mill working class people since he left his childhood home and became a music teacher

  6. The Inimitable Steve

    Disadvantaged children are doing so badly at school that only one in five hits an international benchmark designed by the authors.

    Of course, this has absolutely nothing to do with our useless, union-ridden teaching profession, or the fact that we pay thick, feckless people to have loads of thick, feckless kids.

    No. Thatcher is somehow to blame. I can feel it in my skinny latte.

    The worst performers are white Irish traveller children, then “white gypsy/Roma” children – both of which school fails by a long chalk.

    Because they’re all potential rocket surgeons. If it wasn’t for Thatcher, they’d be sending caravans into space and doing driveways on the Moon.

    We had seen the film Kes, and chuckled at the poverty of aspiration we were all in the process of leaving behind. Our culture was the one celebrated in Ken Loach movies: politicised and articulate, wanting only libraries big enough to house the books we had to wait weeks for.

    Lolwut?

    Then, as if by a 50-tonne steel press, we had Kes status imposed on us as a class.

    And then Thatcher killed Kes, and privatised his bones. Or something.

    I can still remember, in front of a coal fire and on a carpet with a stone floor beneath it, my dad drawing me a picture of Oxford and Cambridge, complete with rugby fields and laboratories, and trying to explain how I might make the choice between them. He’d never been to either city

    Mason’s nostalgia trip is a bizarre synthesis of the Communist Manifesto and old Hovis adverts.

    people who had been shunned in the solidaristic working-class towns became the economic heroes of the new model – the security-firm operators, the contract-cleaning slave drivers; the outright hoodlums operating in plain sight as the cops concentrated on breaking strikes.

    OFFICER! ARREST THAT MAN. HE’S A SELF-EMPLOYED PLUMBER!

    Thatcherism didn’t just crush unions: alone that would not have been enough to produce this spectacular mismatch between aspiration and delivery in the education system. It crushed a story.

    And what the most successful Chinese, Indian and white Irish children probably have – although you would need more research than offered here to give this assertion rigour – is a clear and compelling story.

    Yes, I remember when Mrs Thatcher introduced the Story Crushing Act of 1984. Sad times.

  7. “A culture based on work, rising wages, strict unspoken rules against disorder, obligatory collaboration and mutual aid.”

    Taking that sentimental account at face value, I’d guess that a large part of its destruction can be attributed to the detailed design of the post-war reform of the welfare state.

    Another large chunk can be blamed on the unions, both their destruction of industries and, in particular, their destruction of the apprenticeship system.

  8. The Inimitable Steve

    Flatcap Army – Oh, absobloodylutely.

    Contra Paul Mason, normal working class people don’t watch Ken Loach movies. They watch Batman v Superman.

    They don’t give a toss about mythical “class solidarity”. They want money, big tellies, and American style fridges.

    They’re not actually that keen on going back to the crap wages, crap jobs, and widespread union bullying of the 1970’s, when you could get your head kicked in if you didn’t want to go on strike for whatever the latest nonsense excuse was.

    Your Dad might, after a few drinks, wax nostalgic about the days of full employment, but he wouldn’t want his kids to have to work down a mine for £36 a week.

    They don’t particularly like immigrants, students, or middle class Guardian-reading poverty tourists. And while it’s now much safer than it was to be openly gay, they’re definitely not down with the LGBTQIAWTF gender madness agenda.

    As abacab mentioned, this has nothing to do with the real working class, which the Left hates. It’s a lazy rehash of Rousseau’s Noble Savage fantasy, but insultingly applied to people who drive white vans.

  9. So Much For Subtlety

    A culture based on work, rising wages, strict unspoken rules against disorder, obligatory collaboration and mutual aid.

    A culture based on work? Destroyed by welfare. Rising wages? Undermined by immigration. Strict unspoken rules against disorder? Mary Whitehouse had lots of supporters among the older working class. Calling a slag a slag certainly kept the number of single mothers down. Obligatory collaboration? What is with the left and slavery?

  10. The Meissen Bison

    What a mish-mash of quasi-intellectual nostalgia which demonstrates that Mason is at the heart of Scunthorpe.

  11. The inimitable Steve

    An absolutely perfect title Sir

    Mason has the virtue (vs. Murphy)of having at least (apparently) proof read his contributions and not being so far up his own ass – however the compliments stop there.

    The article is not far short of being that perfect distillation of a narrative that is the exact opposite of the truth as one can find. The idea that Thatcher has destroyed the white Working Class (As opposed to the likes of Corbyn, Abbott and Livingstone) is a well-worn trope but no less pernicious for that.

    If Mason truly believes the last tow paragraphs in particular I am afraid the only remedy is a chance meeting in a darkened room with the business end of a baseball bat to knock some sense into him – a truly disgraceful piece of ‘journalism’

  12. I’m personally fed up of hearing about schools failing kids.

    I am willing to accept that there are lots of shit teachers, even at my very expensive school I encountered them, but most of the shitness is down either to an inability to control the kids or to a preference for spouting leftist bullshit over whatever the lesson of the day should be.

    The kids won’t fucking sit down and shut up and listen, because they have been told by the left that they are all special little flowers who need to be listened to and indulged, and the teachers can’t deal with them because they’ve been told by the left that they can’t deal with them, and the leftist bullshit is obviously the fault of the left, too.

    So if anyone is ‘failing kids’ it’s a combo of the left and the kids themfuckingselves.

  13. The inimitable steve

    Longest abbreviation for them is this – LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, flexual, asexual, gender-fuck, polyamorous, bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism)

  14. “LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM”

    So of those indclude straight people:

    questioning (straights going through a phase or you are bi or something)
    asexual (not an orientation)
    polyamorous (lifestyle engaged in by plenty of straights
    BDSM (lifestyle and behaviour engaged in by plenty of straights)

    The only people excluded are vanilla straights.

    The whole ‘protecting queer spaces’ is pretty redundant IF you blankly include all that

  15. The idea of several hundred thousand middle class Guardianistas who have never been near an industrial town in their lives reading this and muttering “it’s soo true” is wonderful.

  16. Rob Harries

    But that’s 13 separate groups to demand special privileges, taxpayer funding – as well as ‘protected spaces’ – that’s the goal.

    Unfortunately for them, ISIS or its successor is unlikely to be sympathetic to their demands….

  17. Philip Scott Thomas

    A culture based on … strict unspoken rules against disorder, [and] obligatory collaboration.

    If that really was what the culture was like, rather than Mason’s fantasy, then good riddance. A slave is still a slave even if his master is the whole tribe.

  18. Spivs: wasn’t that a term that emerged during the siege economy that Mason would like re-introduced in peacetime prosperity?

    Although perhaps a bread and chocolate ration would solve the obesity crisis…

  19. On the topic of culture, I suspect that post-Thatcher the top 5% are much more likely to cross paths with the middle 90% now than they would have done 100 years ago. Popular culture is much more universal than it used to be, whether cinema, music, sport, restaurants and so on.

    Paul Mason is a snob, basically.

  20. Blue eyes,
    > “I suspect that post-Thatcher the top 5% are much more likely to cross paths with the middle 90%”
    By employing them, perhaps? But it has always been thus. Thatcher didn’t change that.

  21. I wonder whether Mr. Mason will ever realise that, all his adult life he’s seen himself as the vanguard of a working class that doesn’t exist in the way the dogma says it should, or whether he will take his delusion with him to his grave?

    My money’s on the latter.

  22. Instead of the acronym du jour LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM, in the days of my youth, I think we got away with about three words that just about encapsulated all possible aspects of human sexuality. I’m not sure how many of these terms, if any, could be used in a discussion down the pub now without a referral to plod as hate speech.

    Queer, pervert and deviant.

  23. BF

    Even using them on a blog like this within a decade might get a visit from Inspector Knacker – you might be ok on an Islamic website….

  24. it’s fascinating to me how the left are still obsessed with Thatcher 25 years after she left office. Theyve elevated her to the rank of dark sorcerer, someone who filled the land with a neoliberal curse that no-one could undo.

    As for the working class, look on Wikipedia at the historic shift in circulation from Mirror to Sun. The painters and decorators, roofers and diggers were more shifting to the Torres. When.i worked for a printing firm in the early 2000s there were a lot more tories in the canteen.

  25. “A culture based on … strict unspoken rules against disorder…”

    Eh? I’m calling bullshit on this one. I can’t see Valleys pubs or Northern pubs being havens of peace and tranquility in the 1970s. In fact, my older brother can remember one pub mini riot which resulted in a police van being turned on its side by the pubgoers, with plod inside. Perhaps that was the cooperation he was talking about.

  26. What does the old-fashioned idea of ‘working class’ mean, anyway? I’ve never encountered it, it was dead before I was born, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t actually whippets and flat caps that was the defining feature, so much as being utterly crushed by people like Mason.

    These days, there’s a different meaning – or at least, I think it’s different. The ‘working class’ are those who desire nothing more than a nice, steady job paying what they want to earn. The middle class consists of those who’d rather start their own business and/or employ others. Clearly, neither is better or worse, and equally clearly it’s not about money or traditional roles: bankers are working class, most ‘trades’ are not.

  27. The Inimitable Steve,

    ,Because they’re all potential rocket surgeons. If it wasn’t for Thatcher, they’d be sending caravans into space and doing driveways on the Moon.,

    We’d be able to find life on other worlds. The inhabitants of a small planet near Betelgeuse would be putting up earth banks to stop them landing and nicking all their trees.

  28. It’s always been snobbery.

    Fatch! had greater support among union members than Labour managed. This is a fact, and modern Labour needs to understand why that was.

    Many of the middle-classes regarded her as a philistine vulgarian, and let’s not forget British (middle-class) sniffiness about “trade”.

  29. It really isn’t entirely obvious that it was Fatcher who destroyed the respectable working class.

    Tim, referring to the respectable working class will upset Thornavis.

  30. Mrs Thatcher has been out of office for decades, she’s dead for heaven’s sake. Is there anything that she is not “to blame” for?
    What next, the threat that if we vote for “Brexit” that she will return Voldemortlike to lead an army of zombies that will destroy Europe and the Workers’ Paradise?

  31. Paul Mason tells it like it is. The workers are getting uppity and have forgotten their place. Paul’s here to remind them.

    In short, it’s okay if Paul himself escapes the reservation, he just doesn’t want people like me doing so.

    Understood, Paul, understood.

  32. He’s just getting more conservative in his old age and doesn’t know how to deal with it. Hence the references to the good old days.

  33. Inimitable Steve:

    “sending caravans into space and doing driveways on the Moon.”

    Actually, the Moon already has a very nice restaurant but it’s got no atmosphere.

  34. I spoke to a friend a few weeks ago. Her aged father related accounts of living through the Blitz in central London. How you would emerge from your Anderson shelter to find that the ARP warden had helped himself to your tea while he was checking on your safety. Working class solidarity…… My fucking arse

  35. The Inimitable Steve

    Van_Patten – Longest abbreviation for them is this – LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM

    It still excludes people who are sciuridaesexual. :’-(

    Flatcap Army – thank you *bows*

    The Stigler – Ha! 🙂

    Henry Marsh – You have obviously superior comedic taste. And yet, will the BBC bolsheviks on Radio 4 give me my own show? Noooooooo.

    Gene Berman – jokes about vacuums suck.

    Interested – Yes. Kids are horrible.

    They’ve always been horrible. But in the old days their horribleness was mitigated by beatings.

  36. sackcloth and ashes

    ‘Her aged father related accounts of living through the Blitz in central London. How you would emerge from your Anderson shelter to find that the ARP warden had helped himself to your tea while he was checking on your safety’.

    Frankie Fraser referred to the WWII years as the happiest any criminal could have. Loads of bombed-out houses to loot, police depleted by call-ups and the blitz, dwellings you could break into while their occupants were in air-raid shelters.

  37. AIUI, the correct initialism is

    GLBTTIQQ2S.

    Gay
    Lesbian
    Bisexual
    Transgendered
    Transsexual
    Intersexed
    Queer
    Questioning
    2Spirit

    (“2 Spirit” refers to a drag role that was institutionalized in some American Indian cultures.)

    “I’m not making this up, you know.” .
    These days it seems impossible to parody the Left.

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